Four points to ponder about community agriculture appreciation banquets
Katie Pinke shares four key takeaways from Bowman Area Chamber of Commerce's banquet for each community and county to celebrate agriculture.
The Agriculture Appreciation Banquet by the Bowman Area Chamber of Commerce this year awarded the 2022 Farmer/Rancher of the Year to honoree Laureen Stuber. Months ago, I was asked to speak at the event by an Ag Chamber Committee member, Beth Criswell.
I arrived at the 4-H building on the fairgrounds in Bowman in southwest North Dakota — 396 miles from my rural home — to meet chamber ag committee members, do a sound check and see the event set-up.
Laureen arrived early with her daughter, Wendy. My excitement bubbled over to meet Laureen. I shared with her that her ranching roots, real-life expertise and involvement across the cattle industry while raising Hereford cattle — the breed my mom’s family has raised for generations and that our daughters have started to show at our county fair — had me so honored and proud to be at the same event as she. Laureen shared she had noticed me as a speaker on the agenda and said, “it’s women’s night!”
Laureen encompasses numerous qualities of what a rural woman is to me. She’s humble with grit, giving, hard-working, loyal to her family and willing to serve her community and across agriculture. She’s involved locally in organizations like 4-H, church, bowling league, school board, and high school rodeo. The list of organizations she’s actively been a member of includes North Dakota Hereford Women, American Hereford Women, Bowman Methodist Church, North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, North Dakota Cattlewomen, North Dakota Hereford Association, American Hereford Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. She’s proudly hosted numerous agriculture and cattle groups at the family ranch promoting North Dakota’s beef industry. Each year, she donates a show halter to the Champion Junior Beef Showman at the Slope County Fair in memory of her husband, Dick, who passed away in 1998.
In the fall of 2020, Laureen “moved to town” but as she said during her time of being recognized at the banquet, “You can take the girl out of the country but cannot take the country out of the girl.” She reflected on when her parents were honored with the same award.
The farmer/rancher of the year award and agriculture banquet are annual for the Bowman Area Chamber of Commerce, which includes a three-county area. The event brings in 250 to 450 people each year with numerous local ag and community business sponsors.
Bowman's Agriculture Appreciate Banquet set a high standard and reminded me of a few key takeaways I thought about the next day on my drive home to catch my youngest daughter's last junior high volleyball match of the season.
- Every county and community needs an event honoring agriculture. Celebrate agriculture and its positive impacts on your area. Start planning now for 2023. This is not agriculture beating our own drum or patting ourselves on the back. Events serve as recognition of the foundation of agriculture, which drives our economy and is the backbone of our communities and states.
- Honor a local farmer or rancher every year. Acknowledge their accomplishments and the unique role they bring to the community and county.
- Invite those who live and work outside of agriculture to the event. They live near you but aren't connected to ag any longer or never have been. Make your celebration a community, county-wide or — in Bowman’s case — three-county-wide celebration for all to honor the importance of agriculture, farmers and ranchers.
- Finally, where will these vital community events be in five to 10 years? Are you the next generation willing to be involved? Who are the faces of agriculture we do not know yet? Agriculture will look different as we grow and evolve. Change starts locally, and if we want a stronger future for agriculture, it starts with you, in your community, with your ag business, in your chamber group or ag committee, to build up an event and recognize the future of agriculture starts right where you are planted.
Thank you to Laureen Stuber, Wendy Stuber, Beth Criswell and the entire Bowman Chamber Ag Committee, all sponsors, each attendee, and the many individuals who greeted me before and after the event. You each reminded me the importance of agriculture to all of us, in each community and corner of rural America.
Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at email@example.com, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.